2.01.2009

‘Had to be there’

Last Saturday night, the night the boys from Michigan visited the village, I also met Floyd Strand.

He’s Class of ‘71.

He’s an emergency room doctor.

He lives in Oregon.

And he told me at the Brickhouse, standing there in the noisy, crowded lobby, and practically parenthetically, that for the rest of the basketball season, well -- he’s kind of … moved to Davidson.

WHAT?

But you know how the Brickhouse is after games. Too many people to talk to and too little time to do it. So I told Floyd that I wanted to chat with him some more, and he gave me his card, and I gave him a call a few days later.

Why?

He graduated 38 years ago.

He lives 2,820 miles away.

Why?

Here’s what he said:

“To be a part of this …”

Floyd was born and raised in Alaska. He played basketball in high school and he played it well enough to get letters from Lefty. He wasn’t offered a scholarship but he was invited to come to school and try out for the team. He ended up playing freshman ball, back when they had that, the same class as Steve Kirley, Duncan Postma and Billy Pierce.

He went to med school in Chapel Hill. He’s lived out in Salem, Ore., since 1977. For the longest time, he kept track of Davidson’s basketball scores in the form of teeny-tiny print in the back of the sports section of the Salem Statesman Journal, and that was about it, because that was basically all there was.

In the mid-‘90s, though, he started to pay a little more attention to the basketball team. The Internet started to kick up. He didn’t have to just look at the scores in his paper back home. Now he could read about the games.

Then Bobby Vagt ’69 became president of the college. Vagt was his hall counselor way back when. A little more interest.

Then his daughter decided to go to Davidson. Molly Strand, now Molly Strand Deis, is Class of ’02. Her roommate for three years? Kerrin McKillop. Even more interest.

Then his son decided to go to Davidson. Peter Strand is Class of ’05. Even more.

Floyd bought season tickets for the first time before last year. He has four seats, Section 103, Row E, Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Then last March.

Detroit.

“One of the great experiences of my life,” he told me on the phone last week.

“I had to be there,” he said.

“I ran into people I hadn’t seen since I was a student,” he said.

“It was a religious experience,” he said.

This man from Oregon who for the next couple months is living in Davidson is perhaps a particularly eye-catching example of something I’ve been seeing and hearing about all season long.

It is in my mind the very coolest part of this quite cool moment in the ongoing Davidson basketball narrative.

The McKillops’ team, the Mathenys’ team, the Currys’ team -- our team -- it’s drawing back in alums who had lost touch, and for those who already had a bond it’s making that bond that much tighter, and it’s connecting them to this place, and to this idea, and to each other.

It isn’t just about basketball.

It’s not.

4 comments:

Claire said...

Nope.

Mac said...

Is it okay to be jealous?

Biscuit said...

Doc Strand is a god in Oregon. We always thought that he was a well-kept secret. Apparently not. These are among the things that happen when round balls fly through round hoops from great distances.

suedecat said...

"Pink", as he is known by some of his close colleagues here in Oregon, is "the man"! There are many of us that aspire to be like Pink but, alas, there is only one...